Can I paint my grey rendered house?

John Conlin / 12 September 2018

A reader's house is grey and harled, but neighbouring houses have been painted. Would painting stop the house 'breathing'?


My old cottage is harled and grey. Most of the other homes in the village are more attractive because their wall are painted but when I had the harling replaced several years ago I was warned that I would risk dampness if it was painted because the walls would not ‘breathe’. Is this true?


I am guessing that you live in Scotland as ‘harling’ is a regional name for what is known as ‘rendering’ elsewhere. As you have described your cottage as ‘old’ the walls may be of solid rather than cavity construction which combined with potentially harsh weather conditions could risk damp penetration from outside.

As the harling (rendering) has not been previously painted the ideal treatment would be to use a silicate (not silicone) paint that is naturally breathable and creates a strong bond with the harling, which should be pressure washed beforehand to remove any dust and diesel deposits.

You do not need a specialist firm, any competent painter should do the work following the paint manufacturer’s instructions.

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